Pewabic Street Team kicks off its 2018 summer season of pop-up raku events today with the first of monthly visits to the Detroit RiverWalk, 1-4 PM near Rivard Plaza, 1340 Atwater St. They’ll also return June 13, July 18, and Aug. 15.
With raku, clay pieces go from an 1,800-degree kiln to a metal can filled combustibles. The resulting fire and smoke creates colorful metallic finishes, and an experience as unique as each piece.
“We’re excited to be building partnerships like this one with Detroit Riverfront Conservancy,” says Alethea Davenport, education events and street team coordinator. “We had a lot of fun there last summer. It led to our adding some new experiences.”
The mobile raku unit came through the generosity of grants and funding from the Knight Foundation, Quicken Loans and others, enabling Pewabic to acquire and transform a Ford Transit 350 van, along with purchasing necessary components and equipment, including two portable fast-fire kilns designed to resemble the National Historic Landmark pottery building. While the clay activities and the firing happen outside the van, the inside features a wheelchair-accessible mobile museum, introducing visitors to Pewabic’s clay-making and glaze processes and the history of Pewabic.
Having a mobile programming unit has been a dream of Pewabic since the 1980s.
“What changed about the concept was the level of hands-on experiences we can provide,” says Annie Dennis, Pewabic education director, adding that it wasn’t until the program launched that Pewabic discovered its true potential.
“Through these events we discovered something magical we weren’t expecting: We’re opening a communication channel. The firing becomes a magnet that draws people in, but the magic is the dialogue that ensues. The clay creates a language that crosses cultural barriers,” Dennis explains.
Along with the raku firings, visitors participate in Clay City, where they contemplate and design what they think a city needs.
“We basically bring a blank slate and ask the people we’re interacting with what they think a city needs. It becomes a collaborative, team-building effort,” says Davenport.
To schedule a Pewabic Street Team event, please contact our street team coordinator.